When you talk of treason a few names come to mind: Benedict Arnold, Alger Hiss, Aldrich Ames, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The names and their misdeeds are separated by almost two hundred years of treason free history because the United States had fortuitously renamed an armed insurrection a Civil War and made glorious the exploits of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B Stewart lest our national escutcheon be besmirched.
At the height of the cold war a self-published paperback None Dare Call It Treason took the nation by storm selling 7 million copies. This was during the 1964 presidential election between a populist Lyndon Johnson against the arch conservative Barry Goldwater. John Stormer’s book did not tip the election in Goldwater’s favor but it called into question the definition of treason.
Stormer’s theory was that political beliefs are treason and should be denounced as such because treason would “prosper” only if “none dare call it treason” quoting Sir John Harrington [1561-1612].
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort” [Article III, Section 3, emphasis supplied] and by definition can occur only in time of war with all else being espionage or some other crime.
I say that that ain’t so because for the past 75 years the United States has been in a perpetual state of war – the Cold War, the War on Drugs, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Iraq Bush War One, the Iraq Bush War Two, the War on Terror, the War on ISIS, the Afghan War and now Syria and Yemen. It follows that any act which adheres to and/or gives aid and comfort to our enemies is treason in this age of on-going war.
In July, 2016 Donald Trump publicly said that “he hoped Russian intelligence services had successfully hacked Hillary Clinton’s e mails, and encouraged them to publish whatever they may have stolen, essentially urging a foreign adversary to conduct cyberespionage against a former secretary of state”.
Trump was urging, suggesting, approving, condoning, validating violations of criminal statutes by an adverse foreign power against a candidate participating in a national election. Seems to me that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. This duck is treason, pure and simple.
Trump was explicit adding “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find 30,000 emails that are missing … I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press”. If that ain’t “aid and comfort” and I don’t know what is.
Once elected Donald Trump appointed Michael Flynn, a retired United States Army Lieutenant General as National Security Advisor who served for all of 24 days [January 20-February 13, 2017] before being cashiered, a record I am sure will never be bested.
Flynn was the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and forced to resign in 2014. In 2015 he attended and spoke at a Russian state sponsored event and sat next to Vladimir Putin eliciting a report by Politico that “at a moment of semi-hostility between the US and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin’s table startled US officials”. This red flag was ignored by the Trump transition team.
Even before Flynn’s appointment the Acting Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency alerted the incoming President and his transition team that Flynn had been in direct contact with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, that Flynn was in “a compromising position to Russia” and “might be vulnerable to blackmail”.
These heads up fell on deaf ears – I love mixed metaphors – and Flynn was appointed National Security Advisor privy to all secrets of state. I call this treason for which Donald Trump should be impeached.
In September, 2016 Flynn and former Director of the CIA James Woolsey, both then senior Trump campaign advisors, met with Turkish government ministers in New York and had a “serious discussion” for the illegal abduction of a Turkish dissident and rendition to Turkey without going through legal extradition channels. According to Woolsey the group discussed the idea of “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away”.
Woolsey did not report this “violation of law” [his words] to the authorities. It was only after Flynn had belatedly filed a Foreign Agent Registration Act notice with the Justice Department some 6 months after the fact, disclosing the meeting that Woolsey threw him under the bus and struck preemptively in an “exclusive” Wall Street Journal interview.
I say that this was not only a violation of law but treason committed by the Trump campaign and transition team.
In addition to the Flynn contacts with Ambassador Kislyak, Jeff Sessions, then a supporter and Trump campaign official now Attorney General, met with him at least twice, as did two senior Trump foreign policy advisors Carter Page and J. D. Gordon. I will defer characterizing the nature of these contacts until the substance of these meetings is disclosed by testimony given under penalties made for perjury.
The same holds true for information that Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, the guy whose services were valued at $10 million a year by the Ukraine’s pro-Putin President might disclose or information that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law might share regarding his meetings with Russia’s Ambassador and with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russia’s Vnesheconomnank, the government owned Bank for Foreign Economic Activity.
The treason virus has not been confined to this side of the pond. Do I have to remind you that Marine Le Pen, the French far right presidential candidate met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow three days ago or that her political party received a $9.7 million “loan” from a Russian bank in 2014? This adds to the veracity of Russian collusion in the subversion of a domestic political process.
The investigation of this activity by the FBI and Congressional committees is the easy part – in just 66 days the Trump White House has proven a worthy contender for Jimmy Breslin’s accolade as The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
It’s what you do after the facts become known that’s difficult – indictment, impeachment, perhaps a special election and who knows how that will affect domestic politics and the world at large?
Deyan Ranko Brashich is a contributor writing from New York. He is the author of Letters from America, Contrary Views and Dispatches. His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com